Fufa can’t afford Covid tests fee, shelve league

Monday September 28 2020

Hopeful. Ashaba urged government to find ways that will ensure the league season kicks off on new date in November. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE

By Elvis Senono

The Uganda Premier League (UPL) will not sniff a whiff of the rubber ball rolling on the green grass on October 17 as scheduled, with tentative date for season opener now pushed back by a month.
Fufa, UPL and their stakeholders in the game have conceded to the reality check that President Museveni giving the green light for sports activities to resume is not enough – they themselves must meet and adhere to certain stringent health coronavirus precautions.
But they are all broke, if inability to pay for bi-monthly Covid-19 test and other requirements can condemn to such.
Fufa and UPL announced the postponement of this season’s topflight season kickoff at their general assembly on Saturday with clubs unable to meet some of the standard operating procedures issued by the President.
 “We’ve been making preparations, licensing and doing everything to ensure October 17 kickoff. We’ve been negotiating with government,” said Justus Mugisha, Fufa first vice president. 
“Fortunately, or unfortunately, we were allowed to play but the conditions but are not favourable for the October 17 kickoff. Therefore, in order to allow more time for negotiations and preparations, we have postponed (league resumption)  by one month.” 
Promotional playoffs in limbo
The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that promotional league playoffs are yet to be completed with the final UPL slot still up for grabs. Kataka are scheduled to play Kitara while Kiboga Young await Ndejje University in the semi-final duels at Njeru Technical Centre on a yet to be decided date .
“In the same vein, we’ve extended registration of players by a month,” added Mugisha. 
Desperate, clubs now hope government can come to their rescue, especially on Covid-19 testing costs seen as exorbitant at Shs240,000 per person.
They also hope  Fufa can come up with another intervention.
“We’ve had a couple of deliberations around Covid interventions and how they can be mitigated and we’ve been given some assurance by the federation and UPL that they will engage the Ministry of Health to support with the testing,” said Aggrey Ashaba, KCCA vice-chairman.
“At current rate, it will cost clubs almost Shs11m every 14 days to run the test and that is besides the rest of the SOPs. We believe they will work on our concerns and support football clubs to meaningfully get back to action because of the implications of not having fans into the stadiums means revenues are going to be lower than anticipated.
NCS Assistant General Secretary-Technical David Katende told federations that national team activities would be given first priority upon sports resumption while NCS chairman Don Rukare told the Friday meeting that government was still unable to provide any financial contribution to clubs.